“In sickness and in health” is how most of us agreed to wed our significant other. But what if you don’t know when your spouse is in poor health? What if you don’t know your spouse is really an alcoholic? What should you do, how can you help and how can you tell?
Unfortunately, with the disease of alcoholism, loved ones are regularly kept in the dark for years and decades, often only finding out when it is too late for the alcoholic. Alcoholics are in denial about the disease to themselves and certainly to loved ones. This makes this disease one of the most perplexing in our society. Think about it: what other disease has as one of its main symptoms the denial of the disease’s existence itself?
And for that poor spouse who dares question the amount or frequency of the drinking, you are almost certain to be inundated with a tirade of excuses, lies or accusations that the question was even posed.
So what is a loving and caring spouse supposed to do? Well, step one may be figuring out if there is a drinking problem to being with. Here are some tips from one expert that may help with this perplexing, frustrating and seemingly impossible dilemma:
- When your spouse is in charge of planning a night out, does that event always end up at a location with alcohol?
- Does your loved one regularly need a drink “to deal with a hard day at work”?
- When questioned about excessive drinking, does the reaction seem blown out of proportion?
- Do they prefer, or insist, on hanging out with other couple friends where at least one person drinks heavily?
- Does your spouse always seem to have more than the one or two glasses of wine or beers at a restaurant? Can he or she have those two glasses over dinner and stop for the day?
Although there is no foolproof test on this subject (nor are alcoholics the most open people with their loved ones on the disease itself), if you are answering yes to 4 of 5 of the questions above, there may be an alcoholic in sickness right in front of you.
Marc Treitler and his family are the founders and creators of the family addiction education website www.potatoallergy.com and the authors and illustrators of My Dad Is an Alcoholic, What About Me?: A Pre-teen Guide to Conquering Addictive Genes.
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